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6 min read

Sports Bra Fit: Is Yours Right?

Getting active is a wonderful way to kickstart your adrenaline and boost your mood, but when your sports bra doesn’t fit right, it puts a real damper on the activity. Some ladies assume that their sports bra should be the same size as their regular bra, and others aren’t sure where to start. So then, how should a sports bra fit?

A sports bra should be tighter than your everyday bra but not so tight that it’s cutting off circulation or preventing you from taking deep breaths. If you see wrinkles in the bra when you wear it, the fit is too big. If the band is riding up in the back, that’s another sign to size down.

It can be headache-inducing figuring out your correct sports bra size, but it’s got to be done. This guide to sports bra fit will answer your most burning questions so you can fully engage in Pilates or tai chi without a bra that makes you feel uncomfortable!

This Is Why Sports Bra Fit Matters

Women come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s what makes us beautiful. It’s also what makes fitting into a sports bra difficult.

You might think, “what’s the harm if my sports bra doesn’t fit right? I don’t wear it all day every day.”The short answer? There’s a lot of harm.

According to a Sports Medicine Australia report, when jumping or running, bare breasts can move almost five inches. Some estimates say it’s even eight inches. If you’re wearing an ill-fitting sports bra, then it’s just as bad as going braless, and jumping around.

It’s not only that your breasts will hurt (and they will hurt) but all the connective tissue around your breasts now risks strain as well.

You could end up with some pretty sidelining injuries for a few days, and wearing your everyday bra is going to be a painful proposition.

Don’t only assume that this is a problem for busty ladies, either - women with smaller breasts still have just as much connective tissue, so the strain can happen to all women of all body types.

How Do You Know What Sports Bra Size Is Best for You?

Okay, so it’s within your best interest to prioritize a proper-fitting sports bra, which you now realize. Just as you had to get measurements taken to ensure your everyday bra fits, you should do the same for a sports bra. Here are the measurements you need:

Bust Measurement

First, measure your bust. You’ll need a gal pal or a partner to help out, and you’ll need flexible measuring tape handy as well.

  • Your friend or partner should wrap the flexible measuring tape around your breasts, positioning the tape around the fullest part of the breast (as a tip, this is about where your nipples are but not always.)
  • Ask your measuring buddy to pull the tape nice and taut but not so tightly that you can’t breathe.
  • Then have them measure and jot down that number.

Ribcage Measurement 

Next, your friend or partner will measure your ribcage, which is also doable with a flexible measuring tape.

  • The tape should go underneath your breasts at the top of your ribcage.
  • Once again, ask them to wrap the tape tightly but not so tight that your breathing is in any way impacted.
  • If your gal pal or partner can slip two fingers underneath the measuring tape, then it’s perfectly taut.
  • Take that measurement and then round the number down to the closest full inch.

The ribcage measurement corresponds with your band size as follows:

Ribcage Measurement
Band Size
25 to 27 inches
27 to 29 inches
29 to 31 inches
31 to 33 inches
33 to 35 inches
35 to 37 inches
39 to 41 inches

Determining Cup Size

You’ve got your band size but what about your sports bra cup size? Take your ribcage measurement and subtract that number from the measurement of your bust. Here’s how it corresponds:

Cup Size Difference

Sports Bra Cup Size














While it’s great if you conform to the above size guide, not all women do. You may find yourself between two cup sizes, so what do you do then? Go up to the next biggest size!

5 Signs Your Sports Bra Is Too Small

Since sports bras are supposed to fit tightly, it’s a little too easy for women to fall into the trap of thinking that smaller is better. While a tight-fitting sports bra will prevent breast tissue strain, it’s going to cause you pain in a lot of other ways.

Here are some telltale signs you need a bigger sports bra, stat!

1. The Bra Makes Dents in Your Shoulders

A sports bra that fits well should sit firmly on your shoulders without any slippage but should never cause indents on your shoulders. Even after loosening the straps doesn’t help, then your sports bra doesn’t fit. The straps are way too small whereas the band is typically too big.

2. You Can’t Slip Two Fingers Under the Straps

The two-finger trick that helps you ascertain your band size measurement also comes in handy for gauging whether a sports bra is too tight or too loose. If you can’t even finagle one finger under the bra strap, then your bra is too small.  

3. You Can’t Adjust It Anymore

Just as with your everyday bra, your sports bra is supposed to fit when wearing it with all the loosest settings, including the band hooks set to the widest row and your straps loose but not falling off your shoulders.

The more you use and wash your sports bra, the more it will stretch out and lose its elasticity.

It’s then that you want to adjust the straps and the band clasps, as these settings keep your bra fitting well for longer.

If your shoulder strap buckles can’t go any higher and the hooks around the back are set to the tightest setting and you still have fit issues, then it’s time to bid this bra adieu.

4. Your Breasts "Smoosh" Together

Everyone has heard of the dreaded uni-boob, where a too-small sports bra smashes your breasts together past the point of being flattering. You end up with what looks like one giant boob instead.

While you’re not necessarily chasing after perfect cleavage in a sports bra the same way you would in a lacy push-up bra, you do want both breasts to have their respective places in the bra.

If your breasts merge into one when you wear your sports bra, you need to size up.

5. The Bra Leaves Marks

The ideal sports bra should not dig into your skin and leave behind angry red marks after you’re done wearing it for your latest sweat sesh. If you see lines and marks down your shoulders and your back, you need to get sized. Your current sports bra is too small.

3 Signs Your Sports Bra Is Too Loose

In some instances, women can overshoot and buy a sports bra that’s a touch too big. While it’s better to have some roominess than it is none at all, a large sports bra isn’t going to provide adequate breast support and isn’t a lot better than going braless when exercising.  

Here are three common signs of an oversized sports bra:

1. The Bra Has Wrinkles When You Wear It

Sports bras should fit seamlessly on the breasts, shoulders, and back.

Put your bra on and look in the mirror. If you see wrinkles, especially in the chest area, that’s a surefire sign that you miscounted your measurements and ended up with a sports bra that’s far too large.

2. The Band Rides Up Once You Begin Exercising

The band of your sports bra admittedly feels a little loose, but it seems to fit well enough when you’re just standing around or driving to the gym or the running trail.

As soon as you get out there and start moving, the band begins to ride up your back. You can feel it creeping more and more, and you worry about spilling out from underneath your bra.

A well-fitting sports bra band doesn’t move. Your current bra is too big!

3. You Can Reach Your Whole Hand Under the Straps

Can you easily fit two fingers and maybe even all five fingers under your sports bra straps? Then the bra is undersized.

Are You Ready to Get Sized for a Sports Bra Today?

At SHEFIT, we understand that finding the right sports bra fit is tough.

With our virtual fittings, you’ll have the assistance and guidance of a professional Fit Expert who can ensure you take measurements properly and size up or down as needed. You can even contact our Fit Experts via phone, email, or text.

Your days of poorly-fitting bras are behind you. It’s time to rule your world!